The Bluegrass Intergroup provide the following information as a starting place to set up an online meeting for your group by using a free or a very low cost conferencing service.
To begin, it is suggested that the group conscience designate a service position to start the account, organize the distribution of the information (dial in number and code), and then host the online meeting.
It may help if the person attends one of the many existing online groups that can be found at the Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous: https://www.aa-intergroup.org/directory.php to get a feel for how phone meetings are run. They also have this resource with pamphlets and information: https://www.aa-intergroup.org/downloads/index.php
NEW HINT! Schedule meetings to start 15 or 45 minutes past the hour rather than on the hour. Carrier networks are less congested at these times.
Here are several free and low cost technologies:
One of the more popular sites, FreeConferenceCall.com, is easy to use and is (as the name implies) free for a basic account.
Sign up is instant and requires just an e-mail and password. You will be provided with a phone number and Access Code for immediate conferencing. Just give this number and code out to your members, they call and get connected. You will also get an Online Meeting ID for hosting meetings from their web site. It is available 24 hours a day without any reservations. Each audio conference can accommodate 1,000 callers on an unlimited number of free conference calls.
You may access a general FAQ for the site here: https://www.freeconferencecall.com/support
Instructions for Hosting a Call are here: https://www.freeconferencecall.com/host-instructions
Instructions for Participants are here: https://www.freeconferencecall.com/participant-instructions
- FaceTime (iPhone)
- Google Hangouts (available as a Chrome app)
- Google Duo (Chrome, Android or Iphone app)
Please be aware that based on shared experience – by default – Google and Apple services may display the full name of users based on the person’s profile in Google/Apple. Proceed on those platforms only after exploring whether it is appropriate for your group.
- Zoom.com (Free services include the following, but a low cost monthly subscription will remove most of these restrictions:)
Host up to 100 participants
Unlimited 1-to-1 meetings
40 mins limit on group meetings
Unlimited number of meetings
The Bluegrass Intergroup does not endorse any of the above services and there may be others that also serve your Group’s purposes. It would be incredible service for individuals who have the time to assist other groups whose membership may not include tech savvy people who can get this going.
Please share your experiences setting up and running meetings in a short statement with firstname.lastname@example.org and we can post them here.
Suggestions for Hosting Virtual Meetings:
- Everyone should mute their phone or computer unless they want to share, or want to interject a laugh or other nondisruptive sound.
- If two people try to share at the same time, the chairperson can break the tie if needed.
- Due to lag in conference calls, it’s may be best to have one person lead the opening / closing prayers. Otherwise a hilarious discord will ensue.
- Feel free to use your group’s regular format, adapted for phone
- You may consider doing a “Hybrid Meeting” if your meeting has older members that want to attend, or people who are sick. Someone could bring in a laptop and join the conference via computer so they could join.
- For the 7th tradition, you can use Venmo, Paypal, or just send money to your fellowship’s general service office (Bluegrass Intergroup does not endorse any of these particular services, as each group has individual needs and are all autonomous.